Your complete guide to local SEO

Nov 19, 2020

Local SEO in 2020 is a powerful tool and a must-have strategy for small businesses going forward. 

With four out of five consumers searching for local information, if your business isn’t fully optimised online, then it’s likely you’re missing out on up to 80% of the business opportunities out there. 

In this local SEO guide, we’ve compiled some of our most successful tips and hints to optimise your business for local SEO. Allowing you to reach those customers looking for your services now, growing your business and increasing your sales.

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Local business SEO 

Local SEO is a technique that allows you to promote your products and services to customers in your local area. In the areas, you operate, not just necessarily where you have physical premises. 

Local SEO is unique in that Google uses different ranking factors to rank local search results. This means for you to show up in local searches, Google needs to pick up specific signals. These signals can come from local content, social profile pages, backlinks, customer reviews, etc. They are then all used and populated to show the most relevant local results to the end-user. 

What does local SEO do for you? 

Local SEO helps increase your website traffic, leading to more leads, converting to more customers, and growing your business sales. 

Local SEO focuses on using local keywords and raising your Google My Business information profile, Map Packs, and more. 

Where to start 

We’ve broken this guide into three distinct areas. The first two, Google My Business and Map Packs, are vital if you’re looking to boost local SEO. The third element in this guide looks at traditional SEO, providing some useful local SEO tips for organic growth. 

Google My Business 

When people jump online to Google local business, a tool that we can’t emphasise enough when it comes to SEO work is Google My Business. 

As the name suggests, it is linked with Google, so it is always highly recommended to help you reach those high search ranking positions. By filling in as much detail on your profile as possible, Google can happily identify your business as authentic and will duly reward your business in the search rankings. 

To create a Google local page, you need to create and verify your Google My Business page. Set up is pretty straightforward, and you will be guided through by Google all of the elements and information they would like you to include. 

To take this further, however, and boost your SEO substantially, you should: 

  • Encourage customers to leave online reviews. 
  • Respond and engage positively with reviews and comments linked to your business online, and  
  • Specify your location at any given opportunity! For example, “Thanks for working with Buzz Panda Digital Leeds, don’t forget as well as SEO we’re always here to help with your content needs too : ).” 

You also need to keep everything consistent! Everything on your Google My Business should match your website, your social media channels, etc. Google likes it when everything matches and acts more favourably towards these companies.  

Even things such as ensuring your address are written out in the same way, i.e., Google doesn’t like it if one address for your business says Road, but then on Google My Business, it’s then listed as Rd. 

We’d also advise that you go above and beyond the necessary information Google My Business requires and offer them something more, i.e., check out and fill in the secondary categories and use your keywords too. List all your products and services, so people know what you have to offer. Check opening hours, and business information is all up to date and replies to all reviews and comments, which affects rankings. 

Your Google My Business profile is the number one ranking factor for businesses appearing in the Map Pack (we talk about this below), so it needs to be perfect! 

Map Packs 

Local and maps ranking forms part of Map Packs, which are primarily how Google displays local search results. 

For example, if you searched for `Builders in Leeds,` you would be presented with a Google map with a list of the local business results directly underneath. I.e., the top 3 or 4 builders found in Leeds (pulled into the top 3 or 4 due to their SEO work), and then below this list again you will see organic results of Builders in Leeds. 

To ensure you’re ranking within the Map Pack, you need to make sure your Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) are up to date, correct, and displayed on all online channels.  

The more your NAP’s are seen, and correct, the more confident search engines like Google are whom you say you are. 

You then need to take this a step further and begin optimising your business + town. For example, home renovations in Leeds, or Kitchen Fitters in Bradford, Local Plumbers in Sheffield, etc. Using your keywords plus your location or area of operation helps to rank you on Map Packs more frequently, helping your name to start cropping up whenever your customers need your services the most.   

Local SEO keyword research like this, fortunately, tends to be short and sweet! All you need is a shortlist of your current keywords matched and paired with your business location. 

Note: It’s essential to keep your keywords simple and your key phrases natural. 

Local SEO loves map packs, so it’s vital that you get this right, that your Google My Business is perfect, and you continually review and tweak as you go. 

Traditional SEO 

Traditional on-page SEO must still be carried out for local SEO to be 100% effective. 

The best ways to achieve this include: 

Working on your internal links 

Tweaking your internal link structure ever so slightly can boost your SEO rankings dramatically.  

This is because it makes everything search engines love, i.e., it provides easy site navigation, supports information architecture, and ranks pages of authority in higher positions. (check out our post on Technical SEO for further info on on-site navigation and architecture). 

You need to build links with authority and relevance. Inbound links, in particular, can be incredibly powerful in helping to achieve local SEO.  

This is because, for every genuine link you have, the more search engines like Google believe you’re a legitimate company hence begin to raise your relevance on search engine results. 

Getting inbound links can come from guest posts, sponsorships, partnerships, or collaborations if you’re members of any awarding bodies, trade organisations, etc. 

Produce unique content for all locations 

For example, if you operate in Leeds and Sheffield, you should have separate pages for each, with unique content on both pages. 

This helps to support your organic rankings efforts, converting traffic, and putting your business in front of the right audience. 

Local content shows you care. 

You need to write for your customers, not just a search engine. Focussing your content on specific local topics/issues may narrow your audience, but this can be a huge benefit as you start conversations with your exact target market, your ideal audience. 

You can then start to position yourself as a voice of authority in your local area, making you the go-to business for the particular products and services you offer. 

Ideally, your content needs to go beyond what you sell. We would encourage you to highlight local industry news, profile customer case studies, promote your employees and their great work, produce how-to guides, and more.  

Think about how your content can help people in your local area. 

Make the most of your meta descriptions, title tags, headers, etc., and don’t forget to optimise your URL! 

We’re all aware of the saying `content is king`, and it’s true. However, we must also remember that every new piece of content that you produce should be highly optimised and used to target geographic search phrases, your customers, and key search terms used to find products and services you offer. 

We’d also advise you to include keywords in your headers and meta descriptions etc. Not to keyword stuff, this is a big turn off for Google, but rather to make sure you’re producing just the right amount of useful content that shows up at the right time and in all the right places online. 

Make your location apparent. 

This seems a little obvious, but we’ll highlight it just in case…. make sure to add your contact details to your contact us page. Even running these details across your pages’ footer, contact details provide people with confidence that you are who you say you are. People trust businesses that are happy to share their address, phone numbers, opening hours, details about parking, a map on how they can reach you, etc. 

Keep your customers and Google happy by making sure your contact details are 100% up to date! 

Any discrepancies like misspellings, digits missing from phone numbers, etc. will get you nowhere. It looks unprofessional, and it won’t have your phones ringing off the hook for business. And if your customers don’t know if your details are correct, Google won’t be able to determine this either, so will make the decision not to show your business in search results. 

Your about us page could be your everything. 

If you’re a single location business, you are About Us page could be the one page on your site that can help boost your SEO quickly and effectively. Creating a locally descriptive About Us page with a Google Map attached offers you big bonus points in the ranking game! 

A mobile-friendly website is a must.  

Today, most people will use their mobile to check reviews, find directions, carry out a quick search, etc.  

In all instances, your website must be fully optimised for mobile, making finding information on your site as convenient as possible. 

Engage online 

Online marketing thrives on two-way conversations, and the more you engage online through social channels, placing content across various platforms, all helps to build local SEO.

Find out more here!